What do your muscles need to grow?
Without these essential macronutrients, your body will never reap the results you want.
As a rule of thumb, if your goal is to bulk up and put on as much muscle mass as possible, you need to consume
- .75g of protein per pound of bodyweight
- 2g of carbs per pound of bodyweight
- .5g of fat per pound of bodyweight
- 18 times your bodyweight in calories
For someone that weighs 200 pounds like myself, this means consuming
- 150g of protein
- 400g of carbohydrates
- 100g of fat
- 3,600 calories
This can be rather difficult to achieve for many fitness folks. It requires constant eating throughout the day and many people will turn to unhealthy processed foods that are loaded with calories to reach their nutritional goals.
While this isn’t the best way to reach your goals; bodybuilders, athletes, and fitness freaks have long been using a technique to get a solid amount of macro-nutrients into their system… the protein shake.
The protein shake is an amazing way to quickly and conveniently get the nutrition your body desperately needs to start making those gains.
But be careful… there are a lot of unhealthy and shitty quality protein powders out there.
Today, we’ll teach you how to make the ultimate protein shake so that you can be on your way to reach your goals.
What You’ll Need… A Blender
Before inputting the ingredients into any smoothie or shake, you’ll need a blender.
I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to make a protein shake without one, but it’s pretty difficult. The protein powder will just clump up inside the liquid and you’ll be left chewing on chunks of protein and other stuff.
If you really want to make your protein shake as liquidy as possible, use or buy a blender.
Almost any blender will do, you don’t have to get too fancy.
However, if you want the top-performing blender on the market, I recommend The Ninja on Amazon. I promise you’ll never need or want to purchase another blender after you use this one. Top notch quality and you get the amazing protein shakes you want!
Another great one that’s smaller but is still a beast is The Nutribullet! A Little bit cheaper but just as furious! And you can use the blender itself as a cup!
A Liquid Base
Now that we have a blender, the most important part needed to make your protein shake or smoothie, let’s get into the first ingredient… a liquid base.
Now you don’t have to use liquid if your blender is good enough. A lot of blenders are so powerful that they’ll just grind up everything into a pulp.
Regardless, if you want to drink something that goes down the hatch a little easier, a good amount of liquid is needed.
More Liquid = Smoother
Less Liquid = Chunkier/Thicker
So what should you use for the base?
Here’s a list of the top vegan ingredients you can use as a liquid base for your shake
- Almond Milk
- Soy Milk
- Coconut Water
- Coconut Milk
- Pea Milk
- Other Plant-Based Milks
Many people make their shakes with water, which make the shake super smooth. Water has no caloric value so it may be great for those individuals who are looking to make a high protein, low calorie shake. This kind of shake is perfect for those who want to cut weight.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to get as many calories and protein out of your shake it’s probably better to use plant-based milk such as soy or pea milk. Vanilla soy milk from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods is my go-to for making my shakes. It adds a ton of flavor as well as 100 calories and 7 grams of protein per cup. There’s also pea milk from Whole Foods under the brand name “Ripple.” It comes in both chocolate and vanilla flavors and has 150 calories and 8 grams of protein per 8 fluid ounces (1 cup).
If you don’t like either of those you can try almond milk. But again depending on your goals almond milk may or may not be what you want. It is very low in calories and protein, with only about 40 calories and 1 gram of protein per cup.
Depending on how many ingredients in your shake, the more liquid you’ll need. I usually use between 1 to 2 cups of liquid base in my shakes, sometimes 2.5 if I really have a lot of ingredients.
This is the part you’re really here for…
The Protein Powder!
Protein powder is a supplement, so you should treat it as such. Don’t go downing 4 scoops of protein powder a day, you need to stick to real food.
That being said, protein powder is great for mixing with other ingredients to make a shake.
The quality of powder will differ by brand.
The different types of vegan powders available on the market are:
- Pea Protein
- Brown Rice Protein
- Hemp Protein
- Sacha Inchi Protein
- Chia Protein
- Soy Protein
- A Mixed Blend of Multiple Protein Sources (Rice, Pea, Chia, Hemp)
Now, which type of vegan protein powder is the best?
The Mixed Blend…
All protein powders have their benefits, but if you combine multiple plant-based protein sources together, you gain all their benefits.
That’s why you should look for a protein powder brand that advertises the mixed blend of ingredients.
They will usually combine pea protein, rice protein, hemp protein, sacha inchi protein, and chia protein.
The benefit of using a mixed blend plant-based protein powder is that you get all the EAA’s (Essential Amino Acids) that your body needs to refuel and pack on muscle.
If you only stick to one protein powder like pea protein or hemp protein, you won’t get as many amino acids. Don’t get me wrong, these protein powders are still terrific and work wonderfully. But if you want the best bang for your buck and the best results, stick to a mixed blend of protein.
To make sure you’re getting a mixed blend, make sure you read the back ingredients label and stickers on the actual tub or protein. It will have the majority of the plant-based proteins listed above.
Most people who are looking to bulk up and add calories to their shake will add a type of nut butter, usually peanut butter.
And why not?
Protein powder has around 200 calories and 7 grams of protein in two tablespoons. Not much is needed to give you that little extra boost!
Although peanut butter is a staple for protein shakes, there are a bunch of other vegan nut butters you can try in your shake.
- Sunflower Seed Butter
- Almond Butter
- Pumpkin Seed Butter
- Pistachio Butter
- Walnut Butter
- Brazil Nut Butter
If there’s a type of nut out there, it pretty certain it will come in a nut butter form as well.
You can mix and match the different types of nut butters to your shake.
I personally think that peanut butter makes the protein shake taste the best but it’s really up to you to decide.
Be careful about adding too much nut butter to your shake. Too much will make your shake thick and chunky. Now if that’s the way you like it, go for it.
Personally, I like my shakes smoother with more liquid. So I usually only add 2 tablespoons to my shake at the most.
Keep in mind, you also don’t have to add nut butter or any other ingredients you don’t want. These are only recommendations.
If your goal is to cut weight and limit the number of calories you’re taking in, I wouldn’t even suggest a high-calorie nut butter in your shake.
I don’t have to list out all the benefits of eating more fruit…
So I shouldn’t have to tell you that adding fruit to your vegan protein shake is an awesome idea.
Fruits add natural sugars and flavor to food, so adding it to your smoothie will make it sweeter and tastier.
Even though a protein shake’s main purpose is nutrition, doesn’t mean it has to taste like crap.
Here’s a list of fruit you should consider adding to your smoothie or shake:
The first and foremost fruit I added was the banana.
Bananas have been a bodybuilding staple for decades now. Bananas not only make your protein shake taste amazing but it also includes a whole host of health benefits as well.
Bananas are high in potassium which is excellent for cardiovascular health. It helps your body relax and recover much better as well. Potassium also helps fight fatigue, weakness, and digestive issues.
I wouldn’t recommend adding all the fruit above into your protein shake. Instead, just add a few and see how you like it. Different combos will give you different tastes and flavors!
If you’re vegan, it’s obvious that you shouldn’t forget your vegetables.
Many vegetables are considered a superfood for the fantastic nutritional and medicinal value they offer while staying low in calories.
Now, I don’t recommend adding large vegetables like peppers, artichokes, asparagus, zucchinis, or squash to your shake.
But what I do recommend is adding some dark leafy greens.
- Swiss Chard
Adding a small handful of kale, spinach, or swiss chard to your protein shake can be the difference in recovering properly and still feeling crappy the next day.
These veggies are superfoods! Super high in Vitamin K, they help keep your blood and bones healthy as well as provide a ton of antioxidants which help repair and prevent cell damage.
If you’re not adding a handful of dark leafy greens to your protein shake, do it now!
I promise you won’t regret it.
Some people like to add some other toppings to flare up their protein shake or smoothie.
While you don’t have to, people love adding foods such as:
- Cacao Nibs
- Coconut Flakes
- Hemp Seeds
- Chia Seeds
- Flax Seeds
If you need an extra few calories or protein in your shake, try adding the oats and hemp seeds. They’ll help get your macronutrient totals up.
I’m not too big on adding chia seeds to my shakes because when chia seeds are blended they act like gelatin, binding the ingredients together and making the shake much thicker and harder to drink.
If you do decide to add the ingredients above like chia seeds, I recommend putting them as toppings and not blending.